Thursday, November 23, 2006

Advance copy of David Rieff's reflections on Vietnam and Iraq

Long After We Withdraw - New York Times

"It often seems as if the U.S. presence in Iraq has created so many new enemies in the Muslim world that the clash of civilizations described by Prof. Samuel Huntington has gone from being the hypothesis of a Harvard political scientist to a historical inevitability. Even many of those who resist the notion that Islam and the West are on a collision course still worry that the harm that has been done in Iraq to relations between the U.S. and the Islamic world will be almost impossible to undo.

"And yet the example of Vietnam suggests otherwise. If anything, the trauma of the Vietnam War on the American psyche was and for some still is far deeper than anything the Iraq war has yet produced. These days we speak — probably too glibly — of an America almost evenly divided between so-called red and blue states. But for anyone who remembers what this country was like during the Vietnam era and in its immediate aftermath, these contemporary divisions seem rather shallow. Vietnam truly split the country and brought millions of people into the streets against their own government. People died protesting the Vietnam War on campuses like Kent State. On the battlefield, there was also tremendous savagery. Think of the C.I.A.-run Phoenix program of targeted assassination or the systematic torture of American prisoners of war by the North Vietnamese."

No comments: